AX License Roundup

There was a lot of stuff going on at Anime Expo 2014, and who better to bring it to you than someone who wasn’t there at all? Probably for the best, as I hear many manga bloggers were trapped in endless lines, unable to get into panels. As is the nature of large cons; I’m sure I’ll have similar issues at NYCC.

Let’s start with the largest set of new announcements, from Viz Media. Amazon had already blown the secret on the re-release of the new JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but it’s now official. We get the first arc in omnibus format, here in NA for the first time, with color pages and new cover art. The 2nd arc will debut digitally at the same time. The 3rd arc, which was the only one previously released over here, gets a digital release starting this week.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is probably the one major, heavily influential Shonen Jump series we still hadn’t really seen over here, 3rd arc aside. It’s known for its fights, its ultraviolence, its homoeroticism, but most of all, it’s known for being weird. The Bizarre isn’t just for show. It also has most of its major cast named after rock bands to a greater or lesser degree though, given what happened with Bastard!!, we may see some of those names romanized differently to avoid attention being paid. (What, no one remembers Bastard!!? Just me? Right, moving on…)

Viz also announced Baraou no Souretsu, AKA Requiem for the Rose King. From the creator of Otomen, this does not look like it will be nearly as silly as that title, but should have a bit more depth. It runs in Akita Shoten’s shoujo magazine Princess, and is a retelling of the Richard III story, with Richard being intersex. Which is quite interesting given many of the themes of Richard III. I assume, like most retellings, this will follow Shakespeare’s history rather than genuine history.

There are new omnibuses coming for Yu-Gi-Oh and Gyo. Nothing to add there.

Later in the con, Shojo Beat had its own panel to announce things. The biggest news there was probably that a new, one-off chapter of Vampire Knight will be released by Viz digitally this fall. A lot of series, particularly Hakusensha series, have these one-shot or ‘after the end’ stories, and they aren’t always picked up by the licensor, partly as they may not actually be collected in Japan as they’re only one or two chapters. So this is very nice to see.

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Omukae Desu was a suitably odd shoujo title from the CMX days, and Pearl Pink was put out by Tokyopop. Now we get a 3rd short but sweet title from Meca Tanaka, who may be better known to fans as the creator of Faster Than a Kiss, her most popular series. That was likely never licensed here due to its student/teacher romance. We are getting a cute new series, Otome to Meteo, which will be two volumes. Translating to Meteor Prince, it would appear to feature an eccentric male lead and a heroine who has to keep up with everything, like many shoujo series. It sounds fun.

Lastly, Momochi-san Chi no Ayakashi Ouji (The Demon Prince of Momochi House) is by Aya Shouoto, author of the upcoming Kiss of the Rose Princess. That ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s Asuka magazine, and so does this title. It appears to contain everything that’s hot these days: it has very attractive yokai, it has a reverse harem, it has exorcisms and spirituality. If you enjoyed Demon Love Spell, Kamisama Kiss, or any of the ‘sexy yokai boyfriend’ genre, this seems to be right up your street.

Next up, Dark Horse had a manga panel. The biggest announcement here was not a new acquisition, but more of a reassurance. It’s been a year and a half since we last saw Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, and fans with long memories (Translucent, anyone?) were getting worried. We now know that not only will we get a 14th volume soon, but that the first 12 will also come out in omnibuses for those who never saw the series in the first place. It can be squicky and horror filled, but it’s also really terrific, with an oddball sense of humor and a surprisingly political bent. This is news to get excited about.

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The new license of note was Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, a one-shot manga based on the cult classic anime. It ran in Kadokawa’s Young Ace, and certainly has a core audience who will be excited. I never did get around to seeing the anime, perhaps I should. There will also be a Satoshi Kon artbook (DH licensed two Kon mangas recently), and an omnibuses re-release of Oh My Goddess, which may be the first one that I don’t end up getting, because I’ve now bought this series four times, and I really don’t need a 5th. But for newbies who wonder how this got to 46+ volumes, it’s a great entry point.

Taking a brief break from manga to discuss a visual novel dear to my heart, which is to say Higurashi: When They Cry. Mangagamer had a panel at AX to discuss the upcoming re-release of the game on the Steam platform. The first arc should be available by the end of the year, and will apparently feature all-new sprites making their debut. A comparison between the original sprites drawn by Ryukishi07 (and used by Mangagamer in the initial release), the PS2 sprites, and Mangagamer’s new sprites was quickly done.

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As you can see, the original sprites are a bit crude, but filled with emotion. They also feature the famous “mitten hands”. The PS2 sprites look more polished, but were also thought to be a bit dull compared to the originals. (Also, Mangagamer likely is unable to acquire the rights to use them – they also don’t have the rights to the ‘PS2 Exclusive’ arcs with the alternate, more bittersweet ending.) The new MG sprites look a bit overly cute – ‘big head small neck’ syndrome is at work here – but honestly, all three are designed to look adorable in that moe anime way. No doubt everyone has their favorites, but we shall see how it goes when we get the actual release.

Back to manga. Vertical had a panel on Friday, and had one announcement, but it was a good one. A 400+-page collection of Satoshi Kon’s short stories, Yume no Kaseki (A Fossil of a Dream) is due out in the summer of 2015. Tropic of the Sea was an offbeat, hard to get into, but ultimately rewarding read, and I anticipate this will be equally thrilling.

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Lastly, we have two new titles from Kodansha Comics – though one of them you can already see on Crunchyroll’s manga site. First off, we have Junketsu no Maria, a series by the author of Moyashimon that ran in good!Afternoon, one of Kodansha’s many seinen titles. Titles Maria the Virgin Witch over here, it takes place during the Hundred Years War, and has a girl our to make peace by dint of magic, seductive succubuses, or any other means at her disposal. An archangel, Michael, is sent to stop her and keep history on its proper course. Likely with 100% less bacteria than his other series, hopefully it has as much oddball humor and heart.

And A Silent Voice, which as I said has been running on Crunchyroll’s online site, will get a print release this sprint. Koe no Katachi is about a deaf girl who is bullied in elementary school. Now a little older and a little wiser, the bully wants to apologize to her in high school. The word heartwarming was made for manga like this, and it should be a real treat to see.

So what are you most excited about from these announcements?

Seven Seas License roundup

Seven Seas has this odd habit of waiting till I do a post talking about new licenses and then revealing their own, partly to ensure they get noticed but mostly I suspect to annoy me. Still, they’ve announced four new titles for late this year into next year, so let’s see what they have.

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First, and least surprising, is the sequel to dance in the Vampire Bund, Scarlet Order, which runs in comic Flapper. Along with the alice books, Vampire Bund has been one of Seven Seas’s moneymakers, so it was a no brainer to get this one. It has vampires. And lolicon. And lolicon vampires!

Clay Lord is a relatively recent title from Ichijinsha’s Comic Zero-Sum, which means it’s sort of josei but technically sui generis. The story of a boy and his golem, this one may appeal to fans of Black Butler and similar stories.

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Evergreen is probably the title I’m most excited about, mostly because I’m very fond of Toradora!, which is by the same author. (As for the artist, after glancing through her other works, I think I will merely whistle and pass gracefully by.) I had actually expected to see Golden Time next, also by Takemiya, and also running in Dengeki Daioh, which serializes Evergreen and Toradora!. The plot description reminds me a bit of Book Girl, as it stars a male lead who’s closed off and reclusive due to some tragedy in his past. Instead of Touko, though, we get the class beauty helping him out.

Lastly, we have Hitomi-sensei no Hokenshitsu, which runs in the dreaded Comic Ryu. Given the monster success of Monster Musume, it’s not hard to see why Seven Seas went looking for other titles in this magazine, particularly this one, which also involves monsters and comedy. This looks a bit less skeevy than Monster Musume, and involves a cyclops nurse at a monster high school helping kids out with their problems, and the emphasis seems to be firmly on the comedy. I’d give it a shot.

What interests you most?

A Mostly Yen License Roundup

Yen Press had a lot of license announcements today, and this post is mostly going to talk about those. But first.

Amazon blew a couple of Viz licenses the other day, though they were quickly taken down. One was not commented on, so I won’t either. The other, which Viz was forced to admit “Yes, we have it, wait till AX for details”, was the first arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This legendary Shonen Jump manga has long been known over here in the States for its ridiculous powerups and battles, its sheer weirdness, the musical name jokes, and a truly ridiculous amount of not-quite-BL, to the point where the female fandom is huge, and it may even have been more influential than Slam Dunk or Saint Seiya in bringing in those fans to Jump. Viz had published the 3rd arc of the series (considered to be the most accessible) a while back, but it didn’t really sell well. But recent anime adaptations have brought it back into the limelight, and Viz is now going back to release the “Phantom Blood” arc, the first JoJo’s adventure. I suspect it will be the 3-volume re-release from the early 2000s, but we’ll wait for more details. In the meantime, get hyped. JoJo’s is addictive, fun, tragic, and ridiculous.

Now, let’s talk Yen Press and Yen On. First off, in already released news, I was pleased to see that the 2nd Magical Index light novel is scheduled for February 2015. This would point to the series being on a quarterly release, as opposed to SAO’s three times or Book Girl’s twice a year. Given the sheer SIZE of Index, this is likely necessary to keep fandom invested.

There are some more volumes of the Kingdom Hearts franchise that Yen is putting out! I’ve never really kept up with this series, but I know it was huge when Tokyopop put out the manga, and my guess is it’s still huge. Secret was also officially announced; it’s been coming out digitally in chapter format recently. it’s the latest from the author of Judge and Doubt, so my guess is it has a lot of dead teens.

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Akame ga Kill! hails from Gangan Joker, a favorite target of Yen Press. Featuring an idealistic young man getting caught up in a hideous international conspiracy, it apparently has a very high body count, lots of assassins and psychopaths, and is filled with shonen GUTS. Sounds like it will fit right in alongside Higurashi and company.

Sword Art Online is just getting started, with its 3rd light novel, the first part of Fairy Dance, coming out this December. But Yen On has also just announced their license of the Progressive series, which began to come out 10 years after the original. This apparently retells the events of the first two books from Asuna’s perspective, showing a lot more of how she developed into the badass we bet at the start of the first SAO novel. They’ve also licensed the manga adaptation, which runs in Mediaworks’ Dengeki G’s magazine.

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Kagerou Days is selling like hotcakes, which is less surprising when you realize it’s a spinoff of the insanely popular Vocaloid franchise. Based on a series of songs, it’s been adapted into a light novel and a manga (which runs in Media Factory’s Comic Gene), its plot is about a shut-in who is forced to leave his apparently after getting sent a cyber-girl though an email. It is apparently far more interesting than it sounds, and an anime based off of it aired this spring.

Lastly, Yen have already licensed Sword Art Online (and Progressive) and Accel World, now we her they’re getting a new series of novels by the same author, which is not even out in Japan yet. It’s called Absolute Solitude, and will no doubt be exciting, whatever it is.

No, there’s no Baccano! license here, but lots of exciting stuff. Anything you plan to pick up?